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The American Society for Microbiology’s open-access journal, mBio, published a study that opened more insight into our COVID-19 immunity. The study’s proponents were from the Centre de Recherche du CHUM in Montreal and the University of Montreal. The researchers found out that SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels of COVID-19 patients drastically dropped after symptoms disappeared.
There were 31 individuals involved in this study, and all of them were recovering from the SARS-CoV-2. Andrés Finzi, the lead author, and his fellow researchers gathered blood samples from the participants to analyze them. The blood extractions were done at six and ten weeks after symptoms appeared. The blood extracts’ antibody levels (Immunoglobulins G, A, and M) were examined and assessed the antibodies’ ability to neutralize COVID-19.
In light of that, humans produce antibodies days or weeks after COVID-19 infection. The antibodies’ strength relies on various factors like age and nutritional status. They found out that all three plunged between week six and week ten after the symptoms’ onset. Moreover, they saw that IgA and IgM levels decreased a lot quicker. Arbitrarily, with the decline of the antibody levels, their ability to counteract the COVID-19 dropped.
These findings are also evident in other research. In June, a Chinese study saw a drop in antibody levels in recovered COVID-19 patients two to three months after infection. Moreover, two studies from Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Toronto looked into Immunoglobulins G (IgG). They saw that IgG stays elevated for four months, opposing Finzi’s claim that it drops around two to ten weeks.
The study made by Finzi and his colleagues also pointed out convalescent plasma. With no approved and effective treatment for COVID-19, most hospitals have been using blood plasma from recovering patients. In layman’s terms, plasma is the liquid portion of blood that contains antibodies. Hospitals can get convalescent plasma by spinning the blood extracted from newly recovered people.
Although there aren’t any visible benefits of plasma in randomized trials, some retrospective studies suggest the opposite. Some of the retrospective studies’ findings include reduced severity of illness and a decrease in hospitalization time. Finzi and his colleagues recommend that plasma be extracted within a particular time after recovery as antibody levels drop.
Their findings can create a feeling of concern in people who hoped for long-term immunity to COVID-19. However, it does not mean that recovered patients have lost the immune response to SARS-CoV-2. When antibodies disappear, the T and B cells which create those antibodies stay. These cells can “remember” viruses that they helped defeat, especially memory B cells.
Memory B cells’ potential in neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 is under very active scrutiny of several scientists. On paper, with memory B cells, patients would maintain their immune memory of the virus in their bloodstreams. Thus, they would react effectively to reinfections.